Avatar Four Word Reviews: Dead Letters

Last time we met here in the Album Review Auditorium, I had just suffered the ordeal of To The Extreme by Vanilla Ice. This time I have been listening to Dead Letters, the 2003 album by the Finnish sort-of rock band The Rasmus, and I’m a bit concerned that this review is not going to be like the other Four Word Reviews for two reasons. The first is that this album is not quite in the same league of shameful horror as most of the albums that have landed on my doormat over the last year. The second is that, having listened to Vanilla Ice in the recent past, nothing I hear for a long time will seem particularly bad. I think that’s why I’m not particularly down on this album. I thought it was sort of OK.

Dead Letters

I mean, let’s not go crazy here. I wouldn’t choose to listen to it again and I’m certainly not going to be singing along to it in the car. But with the likes of Vanilla Ice and Clock, I would seriously consider never listening to any music ever again if I thought it was the only way to avoid a second listen to those albums. This album is just a bit of a shrug by comparison.

Here’s what I didn’t know until I listened to the whole of this. I didn’t know The Rasmus are Finnish and I didn’t know they were still touring now. (I Googled them.) I didn’t realise – perhaps because, when I was used to hearing them on the radio back in 2004, I didn’t really know much about this kind of music – that their style is basically a sort of Europop version of emo. I didn’t know that I would remember their second single, Guilty, when I heard it. (I didn’t honestly remember they had a second single.)

Mostly this is power-pop emo with blasting guitars and tortured, needy lyrics. Some of them play on the band’s northern European origins – there’s definitely a mention of the Northern Lights in there for no especially good reason. Most of them have a delightful, endearing self-pity that suggests this lot came hot on the heels of nu-metal or whatever Lincoln Biscuit called themselves. There’s not a great deal to tell most of the songs apart.

I was lucky enough to be sent the extended album with three bonus tracks, so while most people only get ten songs on Dead Letters, ending in the festival of depression that is Funeral Song, I was able to enjoy a further three songs that were broadly the same as the first ten.

Track Title Word 1 Word 2 Word 3 Word 4
1 First Day of My Life Remarkably emotional Scandinavian rock
2 In the Shadows Honestly don’t mind this
3 Still Standing Entering needy emo territory
4 In My Life Van Halen meets Busted
5 Time to Burn Attempts metal. Still emo.
6 Guilty Extensive “woahs” and “yeahs”
7 Not Like the Other Girls Kettle boiling, missed this
8 The One I Love Shouty angst and guitars
9 Back in the Picture It’s more power emo
10 Funeral Song Dreary slow overworked pap
11 F-f-f-falling More of the s-s-s-same
12 If You Ever Harmonies glitter this turd
13 What Ever Jiggy tortured emo finale

I think in summary, I would describe this album as “not horrendous”. In the Shadows is an OK pop song that I don’t mind hearing every now and then if it happens to come on the radio. The rest of these songs are just songs I’m not very interested in. Like I say, my opinion may be skewed by To The Extreme and perhaps that means Vanilla Ice has ruined me as far as slagging off bad music goes. But for now I can’t lie about the fact that listening to this was reasonably tolerable.

My favourite thing about this album is the quote on the inside of the sleeve that explains at some length and in oddly academic language what a dead letter is. It’s in quotation marks but not attributed to anyone, so I choose to assume it’s just lifted from Wikipedia. My least favourite thing is that two of the tracks on this album have the same title as much better songs by other bands. One is “In My Life”, which goes without saying; the other is “If You Ever”, and the fact that I would rate a collaboration by Gabrielle and East 17 more highly than this says a lot about track 12.

I think we can all look forward with baited breath to Gary Wilmot, appearing in this slot next month. I for one have never heard of him.

Avatar Remembering is Fun – May 2014 Edition

Hashtag. Hashtag. Like. Dislike. FaceTime Instagram Mcdougall.

All of these things make sense to a lot of people. What these people fail to remember though is that remembering, above all, is fun. They’re too busy trying to WhatsApp a soup bowl to Pinterest to remind themselves that all of it is nonsense and unless they start doing things that they can remember, they will never experience the fun that is remembering is fun.

You can’t remember tapping a slide trap on Tinder or going live on Facebook when Charlie chundered into a sieve. These aren’t the kinds of stories you can recount to your grandkids when you’re eighty-five. Where’s the joy? Where’s the laughter? Who is the fun?

Take for instance the following photo:


This was taken almost three years ago when a certain someone turned thirty. But that was merely something going on in the background that nobody really took any notice of. The main event was the filming of what is commonly known as ‘Essex Highway’. As Chris decided to mention David Bowie earlier on this month, I remembered how remembering was fun and that something involving Mr Bowie had occurred once which was fun.

This was before filming had started. Kevin, a keen perfectionist, had spent three hours getting his hair just right. At the point where he uttered such a bilious scream, and we rushed to expect him having trapped his hand in the plughole, only to find out he had just finished styling his hair and it was the smoothest it had ever been. The hair, donated by Crystal Park zoo, smelled of custard creams and answered to the name Alistair. Kevin would high five it after every successful shot.

Alistair would take most of the directing and producing credits for ‘Essex Highway’ and started a successful catering business once filming was over.

Kevin bought a wind farm and fathered seven children.

Avatar Logical Dreamscape: Bowie Flashback special

It’s a year since David Bowie himself – best known as a regular guest on daytime TV series Essex Highway, of course – passed away. To mark the anniversary, let’s look back now on one of the most poignant and touching parts of his life, which is when he appeared in my dream a few years ago.

(harp music, screen goes wibbly)

It all started when I was driving a caravan around a giant campsite. We were trying to find somewhere to set up camp for the night, but most places were full and everyone was sitting outside their tents and caravans having dinner. Eventually I ended up accidentally leaving by a back gate that wasn’t for public use. I drove under a very low railway bridge – which luckily the caravan fitted through – and then went the wrong way around a roundabout to turn around.

I must have eventually got the caravan parked up because the next thing I remember is being at some sort of communal dining table – a big, long, wooden table with people sitting down both sides of it. The atmosphere was like a cross between a picnic and a viking feast. The table was in a long wooden building and it was dark outside. To my surprise, I was sitting next to David Bowie.

There was a lot of food on the table and people were passing plates around and helping themselves to all the lovely food on offer. I served myself a modest plateful, as did most people, but to my surprise Bowie reached across me to a plate piled high with thick slices of ham and helped himself to almost all of it, heaping his plate with lots and lots of ham.

I thought it was very rude that he would selfishly take so much ham for himself, but obviously I didn’t say anything, because he was David Bowie.

(harp music again, screen goes wibbly)

It has to be one of the best dreams I’ve ever had, hands down. It had it all: the feeling of being on holiday, a musician I hold in high regard, and of course an opportunity to go the wrong way around a roundabout. I hope you’ve all enjoyed sharing in this experience as much as I have.

Avatar Newsboost – The Unexpected Return of Perry Chuffin

The world is reeling from the shocking and unexpected return of one of the most successful crooners of the 1980’s.

Award-winning one man laundromat Perry Chuffin is rumoured to not only be touring across the world in 2017 but also that not one but three new albums are expected by this time next year. The details are sketchy, and mainly come from a tall woman in a very quiet room about three miles away. Most importantly though if this is correct then it will mean an end to the self-imposed exile that Chuffin brought upon himself just after the turn of the century.

Chuffing retired in 2003 after almost three decades in the business, citing exhaustion and a general lack of distrust for the general public. He has rarely been seen outside of his multi-million dollar mansion, located on the cusp of Morley, West Yorkshire, except on occasional trips to the local Spar for lightbulbs and sandwich bags.

Chuffin’s manager, Drippy Peptide, has refused to comment at present although a full statement is expected to be issued by his management team after the Christmas period. Even though he has missed the lucrative festive market, the demand for a follow-up record to his quadruple platinum selling album ‘Hold Your Horses’ released in 2002 is so high that fans have pre-ordered this before it has even gone on the open market.

More news will follow as we hear it.

Avatar Advent calendar

Christmas is nearly upon us, and so it’s time we launched the Beans Advent Calendar.

Starting tomorrow you can open a flap every day and find a delicious treat in the shape of an instantly recognisable Pouring Beans Running Joke!

If you’re still not sure (and you should be sure, they’re only a fiver plus P&P), here’s what to expect behind each door:

  1. A chocolate Bean Counter
  2. A chocolate champagne flute just like Chris’s
  3. A chocolate Character Hatch (TM)
  4. A chocolate Loinsford Academy
  5. A chocolate Chris’s Erotic Calendar
  6. A chocolate knee window
  7. A chocolate Kev’s House (under construction)
  8. A chocolate It Is Though Isn’t It
  9. A chocolate joke about Kev not being here
  10. A chocolate lemons 🙁
  11. A chocolate tumps
  12. A chocolate bust of EEFY McJEEFY
  13. A chocolate £10.10
  14. A chocolate tap saga
  15. A chocolate Week Of The Week
  16. A chocolate Saint King jewel
  17. A chocolate Wang Chung
  18. A chocolate book warehouse inferno
  19. A chocolate owl in a chocolate Costa Coffee
  20. A chocolate Mackford Files
  21. A chocolate Chop
  22. A chocolate Smidge Manly
  23. A chocolate park bench with an unusual name on it
  24. A chocolate So What You’re Saying Is
  25. A chocolate Beans Advent Calendar

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a Beans Advent Calendar. Buy now and get one free! Delivery guaranteed by Easter! Order today!

Avatar In memory of Dick the Brick

We all remember Bert Papps. What a guy he was – but we’ve talked about him enough.

It’s high time we looked back at the life of another modern hero, one who few of us remember but whose life is charted in a thousand minor local newspaper reports of the late twentieth century. I’m talking, of course, about Dick the Brick.

I have to admit that I had never heard of this remarkable chap until recently, but a search of the Sutton and Cheam Gazette archives tells me that on four occasions – in 1964, 1972, 1980 and 1991 – he was drafted in by the Metropolitan Police as a medium and successfully used spirit guides to help detectives prosecute people who had been dumping trolleys in the canal.

Did Dick the Brick ever turn up in your local paper? Let’s unearth some more of his incredible life.

Avatar Fracking History: the Georgians

Hello and welcome to another edition of Fracking History, the top-rated infotainment docuhistoriography show here on Beans TV.

In this week’s episode, we’re going to be seeing what we can learn about the Georgians. We begin by drilling vertically downwards some 212 metres into the past, and then turn the drill head horizontally to push through a layer of sediment composed mainly of the late Qing Dynasty until we locate a rich seam of Georgian history.

Our loud, highly destructive machinery now begins pumping a mixture of water, sand and polyacrylamide into history at extremely high pressure. The delay while we wait for results is extremely tense, with our resident geophysical historian, Dr. Cornward Habsburg, nervously checking over his valves and dials. Eventually a thin, dark-coloured liquid begins seeping from the outlet valve, and we have our very first sample of the Georgian era.

What does it tell us about the aristocracy and the ordinary people of Britain in the eighteenth century?

Dr. Habsburg adds a few drops of hydrochloric acid to a sample of the liquid and places it in a centrifuge at a controlled temperature of 76° celsius. The resulting dark residue is then inspected under a microscope.

It reveals Georgian society in all its debauched, vulgar glory. The presence of particularly high levels of carbon nitrates can only be a result of the deeply unpopular Prince Regent openly enjoying affairs with a number of high society women and the early development of the gutter press in the form of short pamphlets and magazines printing salacious gossip.

It’s been a fascinating journey to an important point in Britain’s history and has brought to rich, vivid life a chapter of the past that can be so difficult to accurately reconstruct today. But all good things must come to an end. Join us next time on Fracking History when we’ll be using the latest hydraulic hammer drilling technology to break through a seam of solid, compacted Dark Ages to begin extracting parts of the early Roman era. Until then, goodbye.

Avatar Positive Moments

I know there’s been a lot of bad things happening recently. Just today I discovered that the patent on application number EP96923892.2 expired on 21 June. Very, very sad times.

It can’t be all doom and gloom though, right? There has to be some bright cheeks peeking out between the hazard clouds. It’s a good job that I am here to wheel out the happy high fives.

In addition to the thrilling news that my new book, ‘Thirst Pocket Hysteria; a Nation in Crisis’, which deals with the sudden outbreak of panic amongst the general public due to the baffling rise of the Vanish Tip Exchange and people bulk-buying kitchen roll at an alarming rate, available at all general and local book stores come this Friday, is out, I also have a story which will warm the very deepest and very murkiest corners of your hearts.

Those with a keen mind will remember that my very first post on the then new look Beans on 3rd February 2014 dealt with a mild irritation concerning a lollipop man who works near my office. If you can’t remember it then it is also here like a tasty mung bean salad. He clearly could not handle how great I was, and still am, and chose to deal with this by being quietly hostile, ignoring my attempts to break the ice. A period of two years elapsed with no further instances until a couple of months ago I crossed the road and in reaching the other side he finally spoke up with, “Good Morning.”

I was stunned. All this time and now he chose to speak up? A lessor man would scoff and walk on, but there was something in his approach which made me re-consider my choices. The conflict was over. The battle was done. I dusted off the dour days go by, held my head up and retorted with an equally chipper, “Good Morning!” Now it happens each time I cross the road at his crossing. He sometimes even smiles. We are the best of fake office grunt and lollipop man friends.

I am still a little confused as to why the council would pay a man to stand next to a pelican crossing and help people cross the road where an automated system has been put in place for that very reason… but hey, that is not my beef.

This has been Positive Moments for the Beans Network. If you would like to share your positive moments with us then please don’t.

And now back to Chris…